Stones River guys sign up as lobbyists

Three principals in the Stones River Group, set up in 2015 by political friends of Gov. Bill Haslam, are now registered lobbyists, reports The Tennessean.

The newspaper did a story back in August raising the question of whether one of them, Mark Cate, former deputy governor to Haslam, had run afoul of a law that forbids lobbying within a year after leaving high-level government positions. Cate said he had carefully avoided lobbying and was just a consultant. But after a year passed since he left the public office — and starting not long after the story ran — he has registered.

“During my cooling off period we drew a bright-line distinction with our clients that we could not lobby then, and we did not during that period of time. The fact that some of our clients have since expanded their engagement with our firm simply confirms Stones River Group is a growing business that now offers a more robust suite of client services,” Cate said in an email to The Tennessean.

The two other principals now registered are Jeremy Harrell, who formerly handled board and commission appointments for the Haslam administration, and Stephen Susano, who formerly led the Tennessee Business Partnership and spearheaded the campaign – co-chaired by Haslam – for passage of a 2014 amendment to the state Constitution on judicial appointments.

Tennessee Ethics Commission records show Cate registered for nine clients; Susano for five and Harrell, just one – Corizon Health Inc. of Brentwood, which is also one of Cate’s listed clients. Susano’s five clients, all shared with Cate, are Acadia of Franklin, Connecticut General Life insurance, Volkert Inc., an engineering firm; and SAS Institute of Cary, N.C.

Cate is the only member of the firm registered for AT&T Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, the Nashville Convention and Tourist Bureau and the University of Memphis Foundation – though most have other registered lobbyists working for them.

Note: The Tennessee Ethics Commission website for looking up lobbyist registrations is HERE.



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